Call it an amendment to Godwin's Law: As online reviews of Vampire Weekend accumulate, the probability of a comparison involving Paul Simon's Graceland approaches one. It's a lazy game of connect the dots, really. Graceland traces a MOR-shattering pilgrimage, in which Simon spent 17 days recording in South Africa, cheesing off the U.N., and immersing himself in South African mbaqanga and mbube rhythms. Meanwhile Vampire Weekend is a pilgrimage down to your local record shop ... to purchase Graceland.
But here's why it works: Unlike Simon, the lads of Vampire Weekend are A Separate Peace-fresh; young-adult minutiae is revealed and reveled in. "Campus" raps about "sleeping on the balcony after class." And when they appropriate Congolese soukous in tracks like "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa," they do it with maladroit fumbling. The members of Vampire Weekend never purport to be Afrobeat experts, only enthusiasts, which results in a full-length that's all loosey-goosey and never vainglorious.
Simon once said he recorded Graceland for his generation, "which had stopped listening to music as a means of getting information about the world." Vampire Weekend's generation has reached the saturation point in terms of information about the world. There's nothing left but recontextualization now, and Vampire Weekend pulls that off brilliantly.
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